Dr. James Henkel (2012)
Assistant Professor of Biology


  • B.S., Biology from University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
    Research: Tick-bourne diseases
  • M.S., Clinical Microbiology from University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
    Detection and surveillance of West Nile Virus in Wisconsin
  • Ph.D., Microbiology and Immunology from Medical College of Wisconsin, Wauwatosa
    Biochemical Characterization of Botulinum neurotoxin
  • Postdoctoral Research - Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS), Bethesda, MD
    Chlamydia trachomatis metabolism and small GTPase recruitment

Research Interests

My main research focus is to determine how Chlamydia can survive in mammalian host cells through small GTPase recruitment. Chlamydia trachomatis causes blindness world-wide and is more commonly known in the U.S. to be the leading cause of bacterial sexually-transmitted infections (STI). Chlamydia replicates by infecting mammalian cells and directing traffic of nutrients directly to the membrane-bound vesicle where the bacteria replicate, called the Chlamydial Inclusion. Previous research suggests that many of these trafficking and distribution orders come from small GTPases, a type of cellular protein switch which direct cellular components. Small GTPases such as RhoA and specific Rab proteins are shown to re-distribute to the Chlamydial Inclusion through an unknown mechanism. My research investigates the mechanism by which RhoA and possibly other small GTPases interact with the Chlamydial inclusion. This research involves aspects of Biochemistry, Cell Biology, and Microbiology.

I regularly conduct research in microbiology with interested and dedicated students. I also welcome the opportunity to work with students on aspects of microbial detection, microbial ecology, bacterial toxins, growth, metabolism, and designing new curriculum around experiments.

Courses I Teach

  • BIO 141 Basic Microbiology
  • BIO 201 Introduction to Biology
  • BIO 203 Advanced Introduction to Biology
  • BIO 321 Invertebrate Zoology
  • BIO 322 Vertebrate Zoology
  • BIO 401 Research Strategies


  • Member of the American Society of Microbiology (ASM)

Published Papers

Henkel, J.S., Tepp, W.H., Przedpelski, A., Fritz, R.B., Johnson, E.A., and Barbieri, J.T. Subunit Vaccine Efficacy against Botulinum Neurotoxin Subtypes. 2011. Vaccine. Aug 9. PMID: 21839134

Henkel J.S., Baldwin M.R., Barbieri J.T.  Toxins from bacteria.  EXS.  2010;100:1-29.  Review.

Henkel, J.S., Jacobson, M., Tepp, W., Pier, C., Johnson, E.A., Barbieri, J.T. Catalytic Properties of Botulinum neurotoxins subtypes A3 and A4. Biochemistry.

Fang H, Luo W, Henkel J, Barbieri J, Green N. 2006. A yeast assay probes the interaction between botulinum neurotoxin serotype B and its SNARE substrate. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. May2;103(18):6958-63.

Meece J.K., Henkel J.S., Glaser L., Reed K.D. 2003. Mosquito surveillance for West Nile virus in southeastern Wisconsin-2002. Clin Med Res. Jan;1(1):37-42.

Reed K.D., Meece J.K., Henkel J.S., Shukla S.K. 2003. Birds, migration and emerging zoonoses: West Nile virus, Lyme disease, Influenza A and enteropathogens. Clin Med Res. Jan;1(1):5-12.